Monday, September 10, 2012
You will find me, here, naked and blank, pale, drowned beneath these sheets of blood. Close my eyes, they are empty, I will sleep. Do not kiss my lips. They are cold, cracked. Cover my face. I am nothing and isn't nothing better?
You will find me, swinging from this tree, a lonely child. I am nobody and the sky is not mine. I could never feel the sand under my feet. I am sorry. This dead face will be with you now, always, and that is more than I have ever had.
You will find me, your son, upstairs; the bang has interrupted your dinner party. I'm a mess, but do not be embarrassed. It hurt, mother, just briefly; do you know about pain? I have known it only.
You will find me, early, down here in the garage, in the car. I am wearing my best but I have vomited. It is not how I imagined or maybe it is because that is everything. You have seen me struggle; the air does not fill my lungs easily. I couldn't hold your hand a single time more without crushing it, wholly. But I have not choked down this foul air for you. This is me submerging into the ocean. It is the only way I know how to breath.
I will kiss your dead face until you are alive again. I will scream into your ears and there will be blood. I will tell you that nothing is not better. I will love you like I do and I will look down into the bottom of your eyes and see more than you have ever seen.
I will find out your name and I will cry for you. This is my tree now.
Son, I will drop to my knees and I will pray. I have made mistakes in my life, so many, and this is certainly my punishment. But you have a brother and a sister and, my dear, the carpets are completely ruined. You must know there are practicalities in living.
What have you done? Reach for me, the bones in my hands are strong. Open your mouth, I will breathe into your lungs with my own air. Let us be at least together.
Sunday, September 02, 2012
My neighbours make love maybe one out of every two or three weekends; Saturday night, sometimes Sunday morning. I listen and I draw them in that moment behind my bedroom wall with my pencil. She is on top and her hair sprawls wildly across the page. Her teeth draw blood from her bottom lip. That face, he cups her breasts, mashing and pinching with his large hands.
I see her on the lift most mornings, we say hello and I see him at the mailboxes. I draw them in those moments, too, later, from memory. I sketch her hair, long and straight, and the run that stretches down the calf of her stockings. Her wide smile, the lipstick on her teeth. Him, fumbling his keys, struggling to manipulate the tiny mailbox lock. I start with his face, centred on the page. It lacks the symmetry of hers. His forehead, his mouth, contort with frustration and a hint of sadness in that instant before he notices me. We talk about football, about cricket.
I draw them eating, also, together at a local restaurant. I haven't seen them there, but I imagine him ordering pizza with bacon on it, and her spinach lasagne with a shared garlic bread; it's Italian. His thick fingers clutch a grease-stained serviette, they cover his mouth completely. His eyes, shifted left, glance at the waitress. She kisses a glass of red, head back, eyes not fixed on anything. I part her hair down the middle, and with my pencil I caress the fingers on her spare hand as they stir the ice in his water glass.
Lately I have been drawing them alone more frequently. He runs. His tight fists punch the air and beads of sweat drip down his face like big fat tears. His mouth hangs wide open. She sits at a desk, in her pyjamas, writing letters longhand. A stray hair falls onto her sleeve. Her lips, naked, shade themselves red; the only colour besides grey on my page.
One day I will invite them to my apartment to view my collection of them. They will laugh at first, hold hands, kiss, they will point. Then slowly they will understand and I will be ready with my pencil and my paper. This will be my final drawing.
Monday, August 20, 2012
He smokes the tiniest cigarettes. He's smoking one now. It's so tiny and she stares at it thinking about how tiny it is. Her mind is consumed with its utter tininess. Why is it so tiny? Why does he pinch his fingers so tight? Why does he purse his lips like that?
He exhales now, slowly, but there is barely any smoke on account of how tiny the cigarette is. It's mainly just his warm breath. Air slightly heavier than the other air and she feels it on her cheek. Is he talking? There are words, they are small and they drift over her and around. She can smell them.
"What are you saying?" she asks, still thinking about that cigarette. It's even smaller now. Tinier than even before. His eyes are closed.
"I see it," he says. "That thing that lies in you."
He's laughing now, he's crying.
"All this time," he says. "These days and these nights. These hours in bed and in the kitchen, watching TV and inside of you. All I could ever see was yellow, the sun. You were always the sun. But here, right here, now, out here under the sky I see it."
She takes a cigarette from her own pack. It seems gigantic in comparison. It dominates her hands and her mouth and the smoke seems almost comical. Obnoxious. She is very aware and she does not want to breath.
"Blue and yellow," he says. "I can see it now under this sky. You are not the sun. You are the grass. The green of the earth and on top of you there are beetles and inside of you, I can see the worms. There are lies in you."
She looks to the sky and deliberately pumps plumes of smoke into the air, clouding the blue. She can feel the weight of her cigarette as she positions it for another drag. Her lungs expand as she sucks the smoke within.
She's laughing now, she's crying, and with less control than usual because it is hard to laugh and cry when you are burdened with an unusually gigantic cigarette. And the smoke. She coughs and it is messy. She is ugly.
"It is true," she says. "There are lies."
He flicks the butt of his tiny cigarette onto the pavement. There are ants and he smiles. He leans into her and pushes some dangling hair to the side of her face. He pulls her head to his. Her cigarette drops from her mouth. It tumbles end over end and lands also on the pavement, that gigantic cigarette right next to the tiny one.
They walk now, in silence without cigarettes. There is a field and there are children and they sit in the warmth of each other on the ground. They do not move until the moon and the stars arrive.
"This night is clear," she says. "But tomorrow you will be rain."
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I should be writing on the back of an elephant right now, scratching words across its leathered wrinkles with my dusty, dirt encrusted fingernails, or etching my feelings into the underside of your forearm with an unfolded paperclip. I should be fingering the button of a spray can at midnight or dragging my toes across the wet sand as the sun sets or rises beyond the waves.
I should be decorating an origami fortune teller with each letter of your name or sketching the gentle curve of your back on the footpath with a child's forgotten chalk.
I should be singing for you, your favourite song, on the Internet so your friends can see.
And we should be dancing at three o'clock in the morning, wildly, laughing in your room and on your bed and on the floor again.
I want to do these things, and I know you want it, too. But today is it enough that I hold your hand and squeeze your fingers and not let go until one or both of us admits to the cramp?
Please know that it is not weakness that holds me back; it's fear, the very worst kind of fear. That blood on your arm is real, it is darker than you could ever imagine and it will drip, the tide will eventually come in. Your friends will laugh and the songs will end. And you will know me then.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Touch my eyes. Now close them with your fingers. Feel my lips, they are cold; put your ear to my mouth. Listen, there is nothing, I am dead. Cover my face and mourn for me. Call someone, you are alone now. It's okay if you cry. You can be angry and sad. I am not giving you permission, I am telling you. I am gone.
You will remember. That day in the sun, in the snow, in the rain, in the car, in the field, under the blanket, in the pool. And that night in that dress in Toronto when we danced and we kissed in the back of a taxi. Some morning in bed you will feel me grip your thigh and breath words and air onto your neck and you will dream about time and about me. And again another morning, the warmth, and another, but soon my face will be blurred or hidden or in the shadows or completely gone. Soon you will pull the blankets over your body, up to your chin. Soon you will roll over onto your back and there will be nothing but your own hands or those of another man to keep you warm.
Being dead is nothing but not wanting to die again. So take my picture from your bedside. Place it in a drawer. Toss it in the garbage. Bury or burn it. Give my clothes away. Go and see a movie, and smile and laugh. Fall in love. Just touch my eyes and close them so that I may die in peace.
Monday, April 02, 2012
In the future, I'm on top of a windmill, maybe a lighthouse, something up high and I can see everything; I'm alone. It's cold and it's not okay because the only way out is to go back inside where the steps go down and around, where there isn't any wind or spray from the ocean. I have no intention of returning to that dark, still tunnel but the salt in the air is eating my skin and drying out my eyes. I could jump but the tide is strong and those rocks will not be kind to my body; my bones are brittle and underneath, inside there is nothing.
So I will kiss you now, here in our bed, here in the garden, under the sun and under the stars. I will touch your face. I will close my eyes and forget everything. I will tell myself the doctors are wrong, and I will love you. No god can steal this away from me.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I don't believe in anything, except the rain and I believe in you, or I did. In us. We were Ben Lee and Claire Danes, until everything changed mid-kiss in New York. Suddenly, somehow, inside of time, within what must have been only a half of a second or half of that, we became your face in a frame on the wall with mine. Your lips high up on my cheekbone, your dancing hair and the sunshine in your eyes, and that smile I do and everything from that day were ours but we could not move our hands or smash the glass or climb down into the bed and cry.
I don't believe in anything, except that single moment before a leaf falls to the ground, before it is alone, before it is grey. That moment before the split, before the decay and I believe in you, or I did. In us, then, when we were young. I believe in the sun, before the clouds move in and I believe in the wind, even knowing that it will soon topple the leaf to the ground.
I don't believe in anything, except this moment and I will always believe in you.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
"We've been here before," she says.
"Of course," he replies. "We live here."
"No, not here. Not physically here in the bedroom, in the house. I mean this. You and me. We've been here."
"Hold my hand," he says. "Look in my eyes. I am telling you that we live here."
"You don't understand," she says.
He draws her closer, their eyes, their mouths now inches apart. "This is our bedroom. Here. This is our home. We live in this house, this two-story house," he says. "We live on this street with trees and barking dogs and trash cans. We live in this town with people and buildings and traffic. We live in this world. Together, I mean. You and me in this world."
"Yes, in this world," she says. "Here. In this town with a river down the middle and a train that goes underground. In this street with a crossing guard on the corner. This house with two stories."
He caresses her neck and her cheek. They kiss and they undress and they make love on the bed and they sleep.
In the morning there is coffee and a shower, no breakfast and work. In the day there are text messages and an e-mail. That night there is dinner and television and wine and in the bedroom there is a feeling and there are assurances and again there is love.
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Look up into the sky, not at the sun, don't ever look into the sun, not at the clouds, they are for dreamers; look deep into the very bluest part of the bluest part of the sky. This is the opposite of lonely. This is a boy in black rollerskates with yellow laces and nothing and nobody except his favourite song and a t-shirt with numbers on it. This is a man, with children asleep, in underpants eating cereal with nobody and nothing except a foreign movie and a cider. It's a girl drawing pictures of people and flowers alone in her room in silence in bliss. It's a woman in a field on her back with a book in the grass in the warmth on her own with nothing but time and nobody. There, look even through the blue, beyond the sky and back again, you will see an ant out of the line on the bricks with a crumb on his back. This is the opposite of lonely.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I’m a squirrel in the forest.
It's a dream.
I’m nothing; I’m dead.
I'm a squirrel in the forest and I'm dead.
There are maggots in my eyes and I'm dead.
I’m nothing in this forest and I’m dead.
I’m naked and lonely; I stink, I’m nothing and I’m dead.
I’m the squirrel, I’m the forest, I’m the maggots.
I’m the eyes, I'm the stench.
I am nothing and I’m dead.
You are the wind and the sky and the stream and a fish and a flower in a tree and a bird and a hand and a body and you smile and we kiss. There’s a fire and it’s warm and a tent and we touch and we sleep and we dream and there’s a squirrel in the forest and it’s dead.
The machine on the table next to the bed uses its timing mechanisms, luminous digital display, and sound function to wake the human. It is 6:57a.m. on a Monday.
The human is awake now. He is remembering who he is. He is an angry and lonely man. He does not smell good and he must now get ready for work. The human works in an office where he does things. He interacts with other humans. He uses machines. He comes back home and does other things. And he goes to bed again and gets up and gets ready for work. If it is the weekend the human gets up and does different things.
The human looks at his reflection now in the mirror in the bathroom. He is naked. He says "I am Justin Bieber." He sucks his stomach in. He flexes his muscles. He tussles his hair. He tugs at his penis.
"I am Justin Bieber," he says again.
The machine on the table next to the bed does not know who it is. It does not feel any emotions. But it somehow senses that the human is full of shit. The machine laughs.
The human returns to the bedroom. "What are you laughing at?" he asks the machine. The machine remains silent. The human is not sure if the machine was really laughing. In his experience machines do not generally laugh unless they were specifically designed to laugh.
The human returns to the bathroom and steps into the shower. It is too hot. The human yells at the shower, "I am Justin Bieber."
The shower laughs its fucking ass off.
"What are you laughing at?" asks the human. The shower is silent.
The human finishes washing his body, dries off with a towel, and puts on his Dockers and button-up business shirt. The shirt is pale yellow. He wears brown lace-up shoes with thick rubber soles.
The human toasts a bagel. "I am Justin Bieber," he says as he spreads cream cheese on the bagel. The toaster laughs at the human. The toaster's laugh is loud. The human is angry and he is worried. "I am Justin Bieber," he yells at the toaster.
The toaster loses its shit. It cannot control its laughter. The man wonders if he is losing his mind. He gets into his car and presses the button on the garage door opener. The garage door does not open. "God damn it," the man says. "I am Justin God Damn Bieber."
The garage door and the car laugh at the human. The laughter echoes throughout the garage.
The human wants to call somebody. He wants to tell people what is happening. "The machines are laughing at me," he wants to say. But the human does not have a wife or a girlfriend or children or close friends. He gets out of his car and catches the bus to work. He is 35 minutes late.
"You are 35 minutes late," says another human to the human.
"I am sorry," says the human. "My garage door is jammed."
"Fucking machines," says the other human.
The human sits down at his desk. He needs to enter a password to login to his computer. He does not want to enter his password. The human calls another human from the IT department.
"I want to reset my password," the human says.
"Why?" the other human asks.
"My computer will laugh at me," the human says, "if I enter my current password."
"Okay," says the other human. "All set. Your new password is welcome$1. You will need to change it when you login the first time."
"Thank you," the human says.
The human logs into his computer. It prompts him to change his password. The human types IMB!EBER
The computer says "LOL" really loudly. "LOL, LOL, LOL, LOL, LOL." And then it says "ahahahahahahaha."
The human's telephone now loses its shit too. "hahahahah oh god," it says. "Jesus."
"I am Justin Bieber," the man shouts. He tips his chair over and pushes it with his thick rubber soled shoes out into the aisle next to his cubicle.
"Are you okay?" another human asks.
"Can you hear this?" the human says. "Can you believe these dumb machines?"
"I know, right?" says the other human.
"I am Justin Bieber," the human shouts.
The photocopier across the room bursts into laughter. The other computers, the phones, the elevator, all the machines in the office totally lose their shit. The laughter is deafening.
The human picks up his chair and returns it to its proper place. He sits in the chair. The computer is still laughing at him. Just totally laughing its ass off. The human remains in his chair and opens an Excel document. He sorts some data and makes a pie chart. He prints the pie chart out, makes 12 copies of it, and takes the papers with him into a meeting.
"Do you have the chart?" another human asks the human.
"Yes," says the human as he passes around the papers.
Monday, January 16, 2012
She's lighter today. Not floating, drowning. That hospital blue blanket is the ocean and her body is sand underneath, deep where it's dark, down where the fish are afraid to swim. Down where the monsters are. The medical doctors, the nutritionists, the psychiatrists, there seem to be a lot of them and they are not happy with her progress. The feeding tube is back in.
I brought her in here myself, physically carried her. She's a bird, I thought. I will throw her into the sky and she will flap her broken wings. She will fall and fly, fall and fly, and eventually she will be okay and she will fly off into the clouds and she will build a nest in some tree and she will do the other things that birds like to do.
It's not really about food, they say. She feels inadequate. She feels out of control. She is lonely. She is depressed.
She's my daughter, I say.
Has there been trauma in her life? Has she been molested? Are you physically abusive? Do you have unrealistic expectations of her? Has someone close to her died?
These are the questions they ask of me and I cry because I am her father.
There has been trauma, I say. Somebody close to her has died.
It is common, they say. But don't worry. Girls and boys recover from this. Adults do. People in their forties. In their eighties. With family support, with medical attention, with psychotherapy people recover. And some of them die.
There is a payphone downstairs, outside the hospital where people smoke. I see people on payphones and I wonder who they are because nobody uses payphones anymore. I'm calling my other daughter who is overseas and I'm letting her know that her sister is lighter today. I'm using a payphone now because I have left my own phone at the cemetery. I didn't just leave it. I was angry and I threw it against a headstone and it shattered all across the face. And then I left it there in the dirt because I do not want to explain to people why my phone is shattered all across the face.
What can I do?
There is a young doctor in the room now. Your daughter will not survive, she says.
The other doctors, the nurses, they are not happy with this young doctor. But I can see it in their faces. They do not disagree.
Fathers carry their daughters, I say. I will hold my breath and I will swim to the bottom of the ocean. I will retrieve each grain of her and I will build with her, a sandcastle like when she was seven. A princess out of sand. And the wind and the waves, they will not dare to knock her down.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
That painting of yours ... the red bench in the woods ... it's hanging on the wall above our bed except I've painted over the bench with a bear and he's dead. There's blood streaming from his head because he's been shot and he's checking Facebook on his phone. He's alone. It's dark, no stars or moonlight tonight, deep within this acrylic and oil on canvas with ink. The bear is you, I think, and I'm the bench, replaced, or the bullet, depending on who you ask.
We met, back then in the diner. You knew my friend and I was drunk and you in that dress, you were so pretty, didn't you know it? You ran your hands through my hair, your nails across my scalp and I was a dog with a broken leg; you took me in.
And we fucked.
Your dad and I talked about football and Bukowski and he stocked his fridge with my kind of beer. Your mum said I was queer and giggled on account of I don't know why. She always hugged me tight when we said good-bye and then she died of cancer. At the funeral you read that poem I wrote and you cried in the car. We swam in the ocean.
And we were happy.
When you graduated I quit my job. A year in London and Paris and love and then we drank champagne and quit smoking weed because you got that job at the bank.
And we bought a house.
I slept at night, warm next to you and I dreamed I was the captain of a ship. You were a pelican and I asked you to guide me through the rocks. By dead reckoning how could you not say yes? We'd safely navigated channels just like this a hundred times before. Then, spying a fish you dived down deep into the sea.
And somehow you drowned in the thickness of it all.
Of course, now I see what you were telling me all those years ago with your brush and with your paint. A red bench in the woods, it's beautiful, how quaint. But it's not natural; it's out of place. It's me on my knee, green grass, at the beach, sunset.
But I didn't drag that bench into the woods.
We built it with our hands and our bodies and when people asked about it we smiled and we knew.
You are not a bear.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
My hairdresser gets frustrated easily. I know this on account of she just told me. She's shaving the back of my neck with a straight edge. "It gets kind of crazy back there," I say, because I'm bad at small talk. She laughs and agrees and I say "well not that crazy" because now I'm embarrassed about how much hair I have on the back of my neck and she says "no, this is pretty crazy."
There's a boy waiting to get his hair cut and he's talking too loudly.
"Inside voice," my hairdresser yells at him.
"I like the tickley razor thing I want to look like a soldier I AM NOT A BELIEVER GOD IS AN ASSHOLE," the boy rants.
"He must have a disability," my hairdresser says.
"Where's his mum?" I ask, thinking my hairdresser probably wants to talk some more about how frustrated she is.
"She's out there drinking coffee, talking on the phone," my hairdresser says. "This is not a fucking babysitter service."
The boy kicks something and it makes a crashing sound.
Then the hairdresser at the next chair over says "no kicking" and my hairdresser says "Jesus" and the boy screams "I AM NOT A CATHOLIC" and now his mum is back and she says "it's just something that people do, like a tradition. They get baptised. Just because you get baptised doesn't mean you are a Catholic" and I realise I need to cough but I can't cough because there is a razor sliding up and down the back of my neck and then I do cough.
"Oh, I've nicked you," my hairdresser says.
I can feel blood on my neck.
"That's okay," I say, but it isn't. I'm in an old single file war tunnel and there are people in front of me and behind me. It's a school camp and I'm trapped. The tunnel is only as wide as my body and it's dark and I'm freaking the fuck out.
I'm on the Caterpillar at the Rotary Fair. The cover is on and it's loud in my ears and we're going too fast. I'm screaming for my mother but the man is giving me the thumbs up. He thinks I'm having fun.
I'm living with my girlfriend. There's a Monet print on the bedroom wall and we're watching Greys Anatomy. She's telling me about that time she turned her eyelids inside out and now she's telling me about the time she caught her teacher snorting coke at the yacht club and I say "oh yeah, you told me about that" and then I think ONE BILLION TIMES and I wonder, statistically, what are her chances of dying. Like cancer or drowning and I don't know how other people get out of these situations. My girlfriend is nice but seriously how cold can you make the air-conditioner go?
I look in the mirror and this is actually the worst haircut I've ever had. Even worse than that time my friend told me about the $3 haircuts at the beauty school. My hairdresser holds the hand mirror up for approval of the back cut. There's still blood on my neck and it's on my shirt. And I see back in the wall mirror that my hair is all, it's just, it makes me look like a fucking idiot.
"Looks great" I say but I'm thinking about how my socks are too tight and could I maybe undo my shoes here in the hairdresser and take off my socks and then the kid with the disability rips off his cape and runs out the door.